Food and the Environment

Food and the Environment Learning Outcomes

Through work on Food and the Environment learners should be able to:

  • Understand the range of food choices available to us.
  • Understand the resources and skills required for food production and processing.
  • Recognise the value of healthy, stable ecosystems to food production.
  • Understand the wider environmental implications of our food choices.
  • Recognise the dimension of social responsibility in our food choices.
  • Recognise our own food culture within a diversity of food cultures.

Eco-Schools Scotland

Food and the Environment also appears as a topic within our Eco-Schools Scotland programme. Visit our Food and the Environment topic page for more information about how you can work on this topic as part of your Eco-Schools journey and to find some useful resources to help you on your way.

The Big Picture

Think of something you have eaten this week that would not have been available to Scottish people in the past. Why is it available to you now? Changes in technology, trade, and wealth have contributed to changes for Scotland in:

  • The range of foods available to us.
  • The way some of our food is produced.
  • The volume of food waste we produce.
  • The values we attach to food.

Global consumption of food, water and energy are rising and it is predicted that food production will have to increase by 70% by 2050 to feed the world’s population. Producing sufficient food is not the whole story though.  We can stop wasting food and reverse the rise in overweight and obesity. Approximately one third of food produced across the world for people to eat is wasted.  Worldwide three times more people were obese in 2016 than in 1975. Unequal access to food and the means to produce it are also part of the picture.  In the world today there are 1 billion people hungry and another 1 billion who are obese.

We need to produce food in a sustainable way that reduces dependence on finite resources and does not degrade the environment or reduce its productive capacity. This includes reducing the contribution of food production to climate change while already having to adapt production to the effects of climate change here in Scotland and around the world. 

Food production must make economic sense. Taxation, quotas and Government standards can be useful tools in supporting our food industry to produce safe, nutritious, affordable, sustainable food. As consumers, we can seek to satisfy our values and moral preferences, as well as our favourite tastes, with every purchase. As learners, we can re-discover our own local foods, develop food growing and cooking skills, and investigate the story of the food on our plate.

Most of us can name foods that are part of a healthy diet, but which of those foods are also good for the environment?  Changes in our food culture have been accompanied by increasing pressures on the natural systems that help to sustain food production.  It is important to understand the impact of our food, from its production or harvest through to any waste produced.

We have a range of campaigns, projects and resources to support learners and educators to build this understanding and develop relevant skills. Our One Planet Picnic initiative is a picnic that is good for you and good for the planet - we have lots of ideas and inspiration to help you get the most out of your picnic. Our annual Pocket Garden competition provides a great opportunity for pupils aged 3-18 to investigate plants and food, develop creative design skills and apply that knowledge to create a sustainable garden. Our Young Food Entrepreneurs programme is a schools based project supporting young people to explore food, sustainability and enterprise. We also have lots of useful videos and other teaching resources.


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